What’s Wrong With Corporate Social Media, and How To Fix It

What’s Wrong With Corporate Social Media?

Well, A lot of things. I was invited to join a panel designed by Peter Kim (he used his blog to gather feedback) at the Web 2.0 expo to explore just those topics. We managed to get Charlene Li, and it was like a mini-reunion. Over dinner the preceding night, we decided to focus on four key challenges that we see across the social media marketing industry.

The Four Major Challenges of Social Media Today

1. How to get culture to adopt & get executives to buy in?

2. How to make social media “campaigns” work?

3. How do you measure social media?

4. Does social media even matter?

Folks who blogged the session:
There were a handful of folks who live blogged or reported the sessions (a rarity these days, thank you) and rather than I rehash what we said, I’d rather let you go see what they wrote:

  • Susan Etlinger from the Horn Group
  • Jennifer Leggio, Zdnet
  • Holger Nauheimer
  • Mia Dand
  • Michael G. Cayley
  • Shanee Ben-Zur from Voce
  • The Four Fail Whales of social media, CRM Magazine
  • Audio: Charlene has now posted an MP3 of the session, listen in.
  • For additional information, we made the session interactive and encouraged everyone to write back their thoughts and solutions using the #smfail tag. I’ve looked through the hundreds of tweets, and there weren’t a lot of solutions but mainly retweets and folks tweeting what was said on the panel. It was great to be with my former colleagues, if you get the opportunity to work with them now, I consider you very fortunate.

    26 Replies to “What’s Wrong With Corporate Social Media, and How To Fix It”

    1. Thanks Jeremiah for link. Much appreciated.

      Sorry … I did try to be focused on solutions with my tweets on the #smfail thread http://bit.ly/66gJC but for those with an appetite for more than 140 characters there is always this: http://bit.ly/6aym

      I am glad that your panel focused on these issues. Great work!

      We uncovered similar issues a week earlier with a panel on ROI & measurement at #BOCN in Boston.

      At the early adoption stage it is enough to establish ad hoc measures that don’t set you up for failure. However to achieve transition to management methods designed for the networked age, we need to be able to demonstrate how driving social media/web 2.0 throughout corporate networks will stabilize & increase corporate value.

    2. Just posted on it. Saw it from CRM post. Great talk. I concur with you guys 110%. Keep on top of this. thanks Jeremiah.


      One thing that I’m finding is that the role of the agency in this is changing. More emphasis on in-house social media is gaining traction to your point in your post. I like the hub-spoke model the best. The tire model is flat. 🙂

    3. Jeremiah, I wish I could have been there, but I’ve enjoyed the write ups of others (linked above and on Twitter).

      I agree that culture certainly is a big factor (as we’ve discussed here on your blog and elsewhere). Another one is the lack of a clearly articulated value proposition. Maybe it’s just because this has been on my mind recently (I presented on this yesterday in Berlin) but I think one of the biggest gaps in corporate social media is the lack of a well thought out value proposition for any social media project. In this economic climate, anyone who thinks a project will pass muster without first having a clear value proposition is crazy. And that value proposition needs to be firmly rooted in both the the business model/organizational mission and the corporate culture. I’m amazed how often I hear of great social media projects that don’t really take into consideration of why it would be valuable and helpful in advancing the company’s objectives. Simple, but too often overlooked.

    4. Jeremiah –
      Thanks for posting links to blogs who covered the session. It’s interesting to see what each person latched on to as takeaways.

    5. “Fail” might not be the best word to describe the status social media in corporations… Especially since we’re still in the infancy of this movement.

      Tim O’Reilly made a candid point in his keynote explaining that web 2.0 is no longer the infant that we had after the bust of 1.0 in 2002-04. Web 2.0 is growing up, it’s changing the way we innovate, share, create value. Although still a child, Web 2.0 is maturing and the Microsoft conversation/panel was a great example of how massive corporations are adapting to this movement.

      Social media simply isn’t there. Yet. After all it’s just a new born. Barely making sense of things and trying to process this new world. Over time, I think we’ll see our child grow into the massive beast which we all think it is capable of but give it time before declaring failure… or failing…

      My two cents.

      -Drey, BeyondBanner.com

    6. That’s an interesting observation about how people used the hashtag. I’ve noticed the same thing: When someone’s livetweeting/hashtagging a speech, panel, etc., the discourse often goes no deeper than RT’ing soundbite-sized words of wisdom.

      A side story, I know, but still a curious anthropological note.

    7. I think measuring social media is the biggest challenge. Companies want ROI and social media is very difficult to sort out. I truly believe it’s important and there is a ROI but actually pin pointing it can be tough.

    8. One additional gap is the lack of corporate marketer tools. There is a plethora of apps/tools being developed that seem aimed at the individual user (self-promoter, small-business), but the enterprise market is not doing a great job of creating scalable tools. Ex: Twitter has nice apps to do some tracking and tweet management, but what about corporate integration for use, archival, rule-based actions, etc. I’ll be curious to see how the publishers (twitter, facebook), the start-ups (co-tweet, listening tools) and established CRM system evolve.

    9. When social media goes corporate it can go very wrong. The key, I believe, is realizing that social media is not a “marketing campaign” but a very real way to develop intimate relationships with your customers/constituents. You’ll only be successful at corporate social media if you take that seriously and respect the give and take of such relationships.

    10. Hey Jeremiah,
      Actually, I don’t think you have the biggest problem with corporate social media. The biggest problem is that not enough people are participating. We have all these great sources of information on the internet, ready to be used, but a significant portion of the population simply won’t participate. I have not seen many discussions on this topic, but for social media to work, everybody has to participate. Otherwise I think the purpose is null.


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